On April 5, 1995 Gregory went to Phoenix House and never looked back. He is now a substance abuse counselor and a single father of one girl and three boys. He’s been clean for over 18 years and stopped by to share his story of survival with us.
DP: What age were you when you first started smoking marijuana?
DP: Tell us about your first time getting high
Gregory: I smoked by myself. I stole a joint from my brother's jacket pocket and went behind a building and smoked it. I didn't really feel anything though.
DP: After smoking weed your first time, did you feel a sense of shame or guilt? Explain.
Gregory: No just went and found some friends and played!
DP: Did you pay for the weed your first time? If so, how much did you pay?
Gregory: I didn’t pay. I stole it.
DP: After getting high the first time, how long did you wait before trying it again?
Gregory: Not sure a couple weeks maybe.
DP: What was your 2nd experience like?
Gregory: Took another joint from my brother. That time, I felt it and was stuck on the steps behind the building for a while.
DP: How many years did you smoke weed?
Gregory: about 10 years
DP: Did you ever see your weed smoking as something that was illegal?
DP: Have you ever been arrested or detained for drug use and/or possession? If so, tell us about what happened.
Gregory: Many times I went to prison for possession of a controlled substance and served 3 years. I was arrested other times and detained in buildings, parks, and in cars with drugs.
DP: How often did you get high?
Gregory: Every day and at least 2 or more times per day. I used cocaine and PCP.
DP: Did any of your friends/family know about your habit? Explain.
Gregory: Yes eventually my mother, father, sister and 3 brothers knew. I was the youngest, so my parents didn't like it. But I kept on using.
DP: Was there anyone that you kept from knowing about your habit while you were using? Did you keep it a secret from anyone? Why?
Gregory: Just employers/teachers. Many females did it with me and friends.
DP: What’s the craziest thing you ever did to support your habit and addiction?
Gregory. Steal and commit arm robbery
DP: Was peer pressure a factor in your drug use? Explain.
DP: At what point did you say, “Enough is enough?”
Gregory: When I was about 32 years old and was still living on my mother’s couch in her
home, I had just lost my girlfriend and was just out the hospital from a beating I realized I wanted more out of life.
DP: Did you ever relapse? Tell us about it.
Gregory: No I went to treatment in 1996 and have been clean ever since.
DP: How long have you been clean?
Gregory: 18 years
DP: Do you ever think about getting high? How do you get past the thought?
Gregory: I understand it is not what I want. I stay away from people that use and I understand that nothing good comes from drug use. I think positive. I know that relapse can happen in bad times but it can also happen in good times, including times of celebration. I never put myself above relapse. I know if I do not stay on top of my sobriety, I can fall!! I stay out of bars. I stay away from groups of people drinking on New Year’s. I stay home and enjoy myself at home because too many drinkers are out.
DP: Any addiction is hard to overcome. Many people who are addicted to drugs never overcome the addiction. How exactly did you do it? Did you have any help?
Gregory: I always wanted to be a basketball player and all the coaches would tell us to stay away from drugs but I didn't listen. As I got older, all the things that they said about drugs had happened to me, except death. I went to Phoenix House for 12 months and did what I was told and listened. I listened in groups and watched the people that didn't listen and saw how they left the program and came back worse. It's sad but when you see people on drugs doing bad it shows me why I quit.
DP: How much money do you think you save on average per day, per week, per year since you gave up your habit?
Gregory: On average about 50 dollars a day 350.00 a week and about 18,000.00 or more a year!
DP: What are some of the changes you have noticed since you stopped using drugs?
Gregory: I'm more alert and cleaner. No more brown spit and less trouble.
DP: Do you think it is possible to get addicted to smoking weed? Is the drug really that powerful?
Gregory: If you can get addicted to eating food then yes I think you can get addicted to weed.
DP: Many people say that Marijuana is a gateway drug. Do you agree? Why/why not?
Gregory: Yes it is and alcohol is even more of a gateway drug. Even cigarettes!
DP: Out of every 10 people, if you had to take a wild guess, how many would you say are weed smokers?
Gregory: 2 people maybe 3. The number goes up if an age range is given, like 15 to 25
maybe 6 or 7
DP: What are 3 things you think people who smoke weed and used drugs need to know or hear?
Gregory: They need to know how it affects their mind and thinking. Are they good students? What are their plans? Why do they think it is cool to smoke it and why they think they need it to have fun?